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mackie1402

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Flickserve
On 22/12/2017 at 8:26 AM, stapler said:

 

I feel like a lot of our struggles are very similar. I know I've written at length about my own difficulties with the Beijing accent. I think a lot of it is just a matter of exposure. I think I'm slowly getting more use to it the more I hear it.

 

I use to play badminton 3 times I week, but I've never been to a professional game. It'd be great to see. Very jealous!

 

 

You should go! The world Championships are in Nanjing this August. I am fortunate enough to get a media pass for photos and seeing the play up close and taking photos is incredible. 

 

Back to Mandarin. I got a bit tired of repeating sentences. Needing a break from it. I went and did some elementary Japanese for something different. I only update this thread for interesting things and progress and it happened yesterday when I booked another mandarin italki tutor for the first time. Most of my online sessions have been on normal conversations. It's a method of input, and hoping common things come up commonly and therefore gradually get assimilated. As one forum member put it a while back, throw lots of mud against the wall and hope some will stick. I haven't gone for that many 'professional' teachers. They seem to have the similar teaching methods and a little rigid. Don't get me wrong, they are good but don't quite fit my style. I don't even know what the heck is my style.

 

Yesterday's lesson was with a professional tutor from Guangdong. I usually book 北方tutors because of my wish to practice cwith northern accents. Why different this time? This tutor uses TPRS methodology which peeked my curiosity. I have to say the lesson suited me very well. Some of the 'new' vocabulary wasn't new but I couldn't think of them actively. I think TPRS methodology does a lot of repetition within the lesson so that was a good thing. Blasting along covering many different topics in one hour can easily be overwhelming. I will continue and see where it goes trying to keep my interest up. 

 

 

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stapler

I quit my job before Christmas. In some ways this was a bit of a blow to my Chinese given how much daily interaction I was managing to get with native speakers. Nevertheless I think it was always going to be a temporary situation. The upside of this is that since Christmas I’ve been able to study Mandarin at a vastly greater intensity.

 

Before Christmas I was only really able to do a few drills for half an hour a day at best and would often waste a lot of my time reading Chinese instead of trying to work on my listening and speaking. Now I can put in as many hours as I can handle, which seems to be around 4-6 hours per day.

 

As a way to look back to see how or if I have improved I tried to tackle some Chinese in different formats. I first read the first 20 pages or so of 许三观卖血记 and blasted through it like it was an elementary graded reader, confirming my feeling that the books I have been reading more recently (currently a translation of Peter Hessler’s River Town) are somewhat more complex than what I was reading before.

 

I tried watching some TV dramas and still found despite the extra effort I have made to understand the northern accents they still remain largely impenetrable to me. For example in the drama 蜗居 I find I can follow 海藻 but not the other main characters, particularly the men. It seems extended listening to northern accents isn’t helping my comprehension. 锵锵三人行 is still too complex for me to follow. On the whole being able to understand TV stills remains an elusive goal. This is frustrating as being able to watch and understand Chinese television without Chinese subtitles is perhaps my primary immediate language-learning goal.

 

What makes the impenetrability of TV more baffling for me is the apparent increasing ease I am having following real world conversations. I wonder if this is related to the complexity of the language, where even banal, everyday, dramas still seem to use a somewhat more formal register and pepper many more chengyu into speech than people use on the street. Or just maybe people in real life talk about much simpler topics.

 

I had another quick listen to the HSK5 audio tests and found a similar sense of unexpected ease. I had a sense that maybe I was accidentally listening to the HSK 3 or 4 audio files. This is compared to a year ago, when I had to concentrate quite hard to grasp what was being said. I now also find the audio frustratingly slow. Though there are still some gaps in my vocabulary, I have no problem working what is being talked about inductively and perhaps more importantly, I am not thrown off kilter by unknown words.

 

I skimmed through some HSK 6 listening tests and found that whether I understand what was being talked about basically came down to what vocabulary was being employed. I found myself in the situation where I either understand everything or was just overwhelmed by an unfamiliar topic.

 

I haven’t taken an HSK test before but might try and work towards being able to do the HSK 6 so I can have some kind of formal recognition of my Chinese abilities, even as limited as they currently are.

 

As a part of my routine, to increase the intensity of my Chinese study without having much access to native speakers I’ve embarked on a campaign of sorts to transform large quantities of material into English-Chinese sentence flashcards with lots of audio. I’ve found being forced to produce Chinese sentences from English rather than mimic written or spoken Chinese in flashcards better ingrains the automatic use of the language into my brain - though when learning or relearning a sentence I will listen to the audio and repeat it many times to imprint it in my memory.

 

For more complex dialogues however I still keep my cards as Chinese only and mimic after hearing it and seeing if I understood each part of the sentence.

 

Currently I spend around 3 hours each day speaking Chinese to myself from English prompts, refining my pronunciation (as I now believe I have a strong sense of when I am speaking incorrectly, and at this point don’t worry that my intonation is quite robotic), and trying to internalise large amounts of sentence structures and vocabulary.

 

The primary sources of my material are still the 8000 sentence book, upper intermediate Chinesepod podcasts and the respective example sentences, and heaps of dialogue from various Chinese textbooks. I cut out all the audio sentences with Audacity, delete all the whitespace between the sound to make the audio as quick or quicker than native speech (not because I wanted to focus on this, but I found slow speech tedious to listen to).

 

The textbooks are good for drilling grammar and patterns, the Chinesepod upper intermediate are useful what I feel is their more “natural” delivery and way of talking, and the 8000 sentence books, despite it flaws, provides an excellent source of new and incredibly useful vocabulary.

 

Each day I drill around 200-300 sentences, repeating them allowed, listening to them as many times as needed, to try and develop a kind of automatic ability to spit them out, later which I can modify as needed to produce my own linguistic output.

 

A few more weeks into the new year, once everyone is back from their holidays, I might try and find some local Chinese language partners to supplement my own private study.

 

Perhaps the most important thing I've realised this year is that how you practice really doesn't matter. How much progress you make really can just be distilled down how many actual hours and minutes you spend really engaging with the language (as opposed to thinking about it, writing forums, trying to set up new study systems etc). If I'm going to improve and one day become fluent in Chinese I need to increase the hours (hell, the minutes!) I spend using and interacting with actual Chinese,

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imron
4 hours ago, stapler said:

being able to watch and understand Chinese television without Chinese subtitles is perhaps my primary immediate language-learning goal.

Train what you want to learn.

 

4 hours ago, stapler said:

The primary sources of my material are still the 8000 sentence book, upper intermediate Chinesepod podcasts and the respective example sentences, and heaps of dialogue from various Chinese textbooks.

Your primary sources of material are not in sync with your primary language-learning goal.  If you want to be able to understand TV, then I'd be doing something like this, using 蜗居 or 锵锵三人行 (e.g. the things you mention you've tried to watch) for source material.

 

4 hours ago, stapler said:

What makes the impenetrability of TV more baffling for me is the apparent increasing ease I am having following real world conversations

T.V. doesn't stop.  It's a constant stream of input that you need to process at speed.  If you miss something, it's easy to fall behind, which causes you to miss more things and fall further behind.  Conversations in real life are not like this.  The speaker will be judging whether or not you understand and adjusting their vocabulary and phrasing appropriately.

 

4 hours ago, stapler said:

Perhaps the most important thing I've realised this year is that how you practice really doesn't matter. How much progress you make really can just be distilled down how many actual hours and minutes you spend really engaging with the language

Very much this.

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Flickserve
4 hours ago, stapler said:

The primary sources of my material are still the 8000 sentence book,

 

4 hours ago, stapler said:

and the 8000 sentence books, despite it flaws, provides an excellent source of new and incredibly useful vocabulary.

 

I think too dubious a source. The Chinese sentences are translated from English and not entirely in correct Chinese. It's usefulness for vocabulary is limited because the Chinese is a potentially incorrect sentence pattern. 

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happy_hyaena

 

14 hours ago, stapler said:

I had another quick listen to the HSK5 audio tests and found a similar sense of unexpected ease. I had a sense that maybe I was accidentally listening to the HSK 3 or 4 audio files. This is compared to a year ago, when I had to concentrate quite hard to grasp what was being said. I now also find the audio frustratingly slow. Though there are still some gaps in my vocabulary, I have no problem working what is being talked about inductively and perhaps more importantly, I am not thrown off kilter by unknown words.

 

I skimmed through some HSK 6 listening tests and found that whether I understand what was being talked about basically came down to what vocabulary was being employed. I found myself in the situation where I either understand everything or was just overwhelmed by an unfamiliar topic.

 

Sounds like "A2 - Advanced Beginner" no longer accurately describes your level!

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Flickserve

Recently my lessons have been going well. I continued with the TPRS tutor. I have to say, I really enjoy it. We have had about five lessons and gradually built up some vocabulary and grammar. Since she is a Cantonese speaker, she can quickly point out why I have some Mandarin pronunciation or tone problems. Her Mandarin is still 南方 but it is good enough for a teacher. Given the trade offs, I will continue with the lessons when possible. 

 

One of the problems of language learning methodology. What might be good as a beginner is not so relevant. When you might have been exposed to a good technique earlier, you could not feel it's effectiveness at that time. Case point is reading out loud. I was always pretty bad at this for Cantonese and surprise surprise, the same for Mandarin. I did some reading out loud about a year and a half ago. It was demoralising, so I dropped it. The TPRS teacher suddenly sprung some reading on me with our subject matter during the last lesson. It went much better than expected. I was reading off her screen and one benefit was that she would highlight which words I had problems with. That makes it really convenient to go back and identify those areas within the context of the text. It also shows where some habits have unknowingly crept into the speech. I am more interested in the really obvious errors but even with such errors, I can be understood much of the time. Normally, the community tutors don't correct, or if they do, somehow I don't feel the correction effectively helps me.

 

Language partners: I tried it out before but honestly speaking, it was not effective. Most of the contacts have been through italki. I joined Hellotalk just to enlarge the pool and try talking to more people again. Wow, the pool is very big and best of all, quite spontaneous. So you can maintain a large pool of people and exchange voice chats. I have done a few real-time conversations - not many but it takes time to develop the relationships. Because I am now better at Mandarin, the exchange is more equal now and it is easier for me to handle people who have very low levels of aural and verbal English. Previously, every exchange would slip to more English. Another thing is that that it is now easier for me to find subject matter and just talk about simple things. It's a way of dumbing down my thinking to being more simple and building up from there.  When I think in English, the sentence constructions are difficult to translate. So I have to dumb it down.

 

Language partner relationships seems to be evolving. One group is the advanced learner. Absolutely knows what they want and can offer training. Not afraid to express opinions. 

 

Then there is the student group. How can I describe them? Probably less focused unless they need IELTS. Sometimes they are not very smart - sorry, it sounds bad to describe it like that. They seem to be less committed but it could be a generation gap. 

 

Then there is the group with very basic English skills. I think it is best not to exhaust oneself with trying to raise their level very high. They sometimes don't have the economic means nor work pressure to push themselves. It's on a case by case basis. That is also sounds a bit mean but my time is also precious. There is just too high a demand for native English speakers as a language partner. Luckily they are happy with small improvements and if I get my Chinese practice out of it. Then all the better. If not, I will make a tactful withdrawal. 

 

So, two very promising language partners have turned up. One is a primary school teacher - just totally focused on UK accent and pronunciation. She's a scarily fast learner and reciprocated very well. I am scared I am not up to her standards. Haha. The second has a great standard Mandarin voice, low English levels and get this, productions skills in audio software. We have agreed to swop recordings of sentences. For me, getting recordings is very important. I don't necessarily review all recordings but when very useful I will go back to them. Hope this person turns out to be just as motivated. 

 

 

 

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biyalan

I am intermediate! I am weekly (aren't we all?)!  

 

My Chinese studies have been going well this week. I managed to line up my resumption of studies with the New Year which is aesthetically pleasing if nothing else, so this is my first real week of study in a while. I have been reading on JLC for a half an hour each morning  before work and adding new vocab to my SRS. It's slow going, but things are definitely coming back to me. I'm adding a bit more than 10 words a day, since a lot of is more like re-learning and will go faster. I'm still getting used to Pleco. Though it's definitely worth it for the amount of time it cuts down on adding flashcards, it sort of throws me off that there isn't anywhere you can say how many reviews you have due in a day, or when cards will be due again (unless I'm missing something? Please enlighten me). Though I'm only a few days in, I'm quite satisfied with this routine, so hopefully I can keep it up!

 

I've also been doing some miscellaneous/more casual Chinese practice, mostly with listening. I listened to an episode of 逻辑思维 on the train home the other day, and I got through some early episodes of 黑米公主 while cooking dinner. In order to fully understand what was going in either of these I'd probably have to sit down with a transcript or loop bits of audio, which may come later, but for now I'm just trying to have some amount of intake/exposure. I also watched half of the first episode of 猎场, which was somewhat enjoyable and somewhat comprehensible, again more for fun than for real practice/comprehension. I also went through the HSK 4 vocab list and picked out all the words that I either had never learned for some reason or had forgotten. I enjoy doing casual vocab practice as little breaks at work, etc, so this is sort of a fun, optional second vocab deck to pull out when I'm done with my first one.

 

Anyway that's what I've accomplished this week! I'm thinking of casually going through some old textbooks this weekend just as a way to jog my memory - hopefully seeing some vocab in the original context I learned it will make it easier to recall than seeing it in a completely new context. For next week, my main goals are a) keep reading and b) figure out some sort of listening practice that seems enjoyable and sustainable. 

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imron
39 minutes ago, biyalan said:

there isn't anywhere you can say how many reviews you have due in a day,

Is that a typo for 'see' or are you looking to set the maximum number of reviews to do in a day?

41 minutes ago, biyalan said:

I'm adding a bit more than 10 words a day, since a lot of is more like re-learning and will go faster.

Just be aware that in a month or two's time, it's going to cause a large review queue.  Not necessarily a problem, just important to be aware of to prevent 'queue fatigue'.

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biyalan
9 hours ago, imron said:
10 hours ago, biyalan said:

there isn't anywhere you can say how many reviews you have due in a day,

Is that a typo for 'see' or are you looking to set the maximum number of reviews to do in a day?

Ah yes, the joys of posting immediately after waking up. Yes, that was a typo for "see". 

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biyalan

Checking back in after (a bit more than) a week.

I've been keeping up with my daily reading, which is good. I got through the online story I was reading on justlearnchinese, and could definitely feel myself getting faster already, which is exciting! I'm not totally sure what to take on as my next project, though - I feel like I might benefit from a bit more warmup before tackling my first real native language novel. I generally find news pretty boring, though, so stories are nice... For now, I'm just going to read through some of the intermediate stories on jlc, even though they're not as much of a challenge as what I was doing before. I might also read through some old textbooks instead, we'll see how the spirit moves me.

No particular progress on finding listening material, will have to recommit to this in the coming week. 

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AdamD

I've been keeping up voice conversations online, and am returning to local language exchange events. I think I freaked out a couple of Chinese speakers by sitting at a mahjong table and playing at their speed.

 

I've also booked a flight to Taiwan and, in a huge personal departure, plan to meet a lot of new people and involve myself in social things, rather than wander around for 12 hours a day just looking at stuff. In order to find more events there I also created a Facebook account, which just ugh.

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biyalan

I've been more or less keeping pace over the last week, reading half an hour a day or a little more. I've moved on to the 3000 level graded reader that you can buy in app from Pleco, which I've found to be just right - it feels easy, but I'm definitely looking up words and expanding my vocabulary. I also used Chinese Text Analyser to pull together a vocab list for the first chunk of 活着 and am pre-studying those words.

 

I poked around the recent tv show thread, so hopefully I will be able to watch some Chinese tv this week to start getting my listening skills together again. 

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mackie1402

As I'm (kinda) planning on studying full time from September I needed to get a HSK certificate. I took the HSK4 on Saturday. I did the Internet test which was fine. I had heard about the input method being a hassle where you can only type one character at a time, but my computer was a standard pinyin input where I could type full words or even phrases and they would all pop up together. 

 

In preparation for the test I went through a load of practice papers I had sitting at home. I used to do the listening tests while I was walking my dog. I put all the audio files into Audacity and sped them up to 1.25x speed. This felt a lot more natural to me. This made the actual test a breeze for listening. 

 

I finished the reading section with about 15-20 minutes to go, so spent my time checking my answers. 

 

Writing is my weakest area so I tried to keep the sentences simple for the writing. 

 

Overall the biggest problem I had with the test was the stool I had to sit on! These tiny wooden stools in the Chinese computer room were so uncomfortable, I struggled to sit there for the duration of the test!

 

I decided to reward myself and after the test I picked up a couple of HSK 5 books. One is a HSK 5 grammar book and the other is the Standard Course book. 

 

Update:

Since my last post I just found a HSK 5 mock test online. Wanted to give it a quick try before bed so did the first 20 questions for the listening section. Got 18/20 so that's a pretty big confidence boost for myself! It's really pushed me to keep working on my Chinese!

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stapler

Just out of curiousity, if you do the test on a computer can you see all the possible answers on the listening section like you can on the written version? 

 

I found being able to read all the possible answers before hearing the question made that section infinitely easier

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mackie1402
3 hours ago, stapler said:

Just out of curiousity, if you do the test on a computer can you see all the possible answers on the listening section like you can on the written version? 

 

I had read online that you can't see any of the questions for the internet test.

 

When I took the test they only show you 1 question at a time, however you can click a 'Next' button to see the next question once you've answered. I would usually answer the question, click 'Next' and still have about 5-10 seconds to read the answers to the next question before it started to play. I didn't find it a problem.

 

Building up the the test I did a few listening tests from a book and just put a piece of paper of the answers, then slid the paper down 1 by 1. 

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AaronUK
12 hours ago, stapler said:

Just out of curiousity, if you do the test on a computer can you see all the possible answers on the listening section like you can on the written version? 

 

 

When I sat the E-test (HSK3)  I was limited to seeing sets of answers at the same time so like 5 at a time. Also you couldn't see the answers until after the introduction to the tests had already been played, where as with the paper test, you use the time during the introductions playing to skip to and prepare for the listening section. Because of this my opinion is that the E-Test feels a bit more rushed.

 

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stapler

I've been continuing my process of spending a lot of time recording myself speaking sentences from memory after being prompted in English. I am seeing an improvement in my listening and speaking abilities. In particular I have found I am able to modify a lot of memorised sentences into some pretty "advanced" custom lines that can sometimes surprise people.

 

I sat down and did a complete HSK5 mock test with a timer. This was the first time I have done this. I got around 40/45 for the listening and reading sections and full marks on the writing section where you have to construct sentences using the parts given. I was not however satisfied with my performance.

 

Listening

 

In the listening section I felt like I was struggling to grasp everything that was spoken. I was very surprised I didn't get a poor mark. I believe either I was very lucky with rough guesses and/or being able to read the possible answers in the gap between each monologue basically made me attentive to the information I needed.

 

I feel without being able to see what information I need to be listening for I would struggle to get more than 50% of the answers. Because of this I felt my mark was very hollow. I'm going to take another mock exam with a piece of paper covering the possible answers as I go. I hope this will stop me from 'cheating'. This way I'll get a more accurate assessment of my listening abilities.

 

I also found the first 20 listening questions the most difficult. I believe the longer monologues give me more time to work out the context of what's being discussed, making it easier to guess (and I emphasis 'guess' rather than 'know') the answer.

 

Reading

 

I finished the reading section with about 20 minutes to spare. The answers I got wrong were just from being lazy/sloppy. After having heard that the reading section was a matter of speed, I skim read through everything. Now I realise I can probably read the section at my own leisure.

 

The ease of the reading section demonstrates the overinvestment of my time into this skill.

 

Writing

 

The writing section seemed trivial too. The 8 construct-a-sentence exercises I found very straight forward. The  write-an-80 character-paragraph section using the set vocabulary was also relatively easy. The one problem I encountered was that for one or two characters I could only remember how to write the traditional form. I'm not going to invest any more time into fixing this problem in the age of ubiquitous pinyin input.

 

I don't know how to mark what I wrote, but I figured because I was familiar with the vocabulary the test asked me to use I probably got a passing mark.

 

I still don't know how the writing section is weighted. Surely the 8 questions are worth less than the last 2 writing sections?

 

Conclusion

 

As I have known my listening is still my biggest problem. Though most of this can be attributed to my laziness, I still believe not living in a Chinese speaking environment deprives me of a lot benefit. To try and counteract this I've made listening my almost exclusive focus for the last year or two.

 

I'm still considering taking a real test. Ideally I don't want to spend any time on this test but I have been suffering some knockbacks in my professional life because I have no formal language qualifications and my own testimony/demonstrations aren't sufficient. Although I'm tempted to skip the HSK5 to save some money, I am not confident that I can get my listening abilities up to scratch for the HSK6 any time soon. So I might get the HSK5 as a place-holder.

 

 

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mackie1402
11 hours ago, stapler said:

I still don't know how the writing section is weighted. Surely the 8 questions are worth less than the last 2 writing sections?

 

I looked about online and found the HSK评分. 

 

The 8 questions are 5 points each. Total 40 points.

Each article is a maximum of 30 points. Total 60 points.

 

Here is how HSK5 is scored for the writing sections:

 

写短文
 HSK(五级)

The first writing task (using the words)

0分:空白。
 
低档分:未全部使用5个词语,内容不连贯,有语法错误;有较多错别字。
 
中档分:内容连贯且合逻辑,有语法错误;内容连贯且合逻辑,有少量错别字;内容连贯且合逻辑,篇幅不够。
 
高档分:5个词语全部使用,无错别字,无语法错误,内容丰富、连贯且合逻辑。
 

The second writing task (using the picture)

0分:空白。
 
低档分:内容与图片相关性不大;内容不连贯,有语法错误;有较多错别字。
 
中档分:内容与图片相关且合逻辑,有语法错误;内容与图片相关且合逻辑,有少量错别字;篇幅不够。
 
高档分:内容与图片相关,无错别字,无语法错误,内容丰富、连贯且合逻辑。
 

 

 

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AdamD

Apparently my Chinese learning cycle sees me ragequit the language forever and then go straight back to giving it 50 hours a week. Right now I'm giving it 50 hours a week.

 

The Facebook account has gone well (and I still can't believe I'm saying that). I've had a good go at the language exchange groups and chatted with a handful of event regulars, and now I'm trying to identify groups in Taiwan that fit my interests. That bit is harder.

 

I'm also smashing down YouTube videos and keeping up heaps of Chinese language chats online, many of which are with people I can see becoming long-term friends. In doing that, I'm deliberately making a pile of mistakes so I can learn from them. That's going well too.

 

No formal study right now because all this is too much fun, which means it'll be 100 times more effective than formal learning anyway.

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